AfriForum has instructed its legal team to consider possible legal action after the banning in South Africa of the use of controversial Ivermectin that was developed for human consumption as treatment against COVID-19.
The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) banned the medication which is currently only available in South Africa as a livestock drug. AfriForum points out that in several countries Ivermectin has been available for human consumption for many years. However the approval – as per the FDA in the USA – is usually for treatment of parasitic worms, and not Covid. AfriForum says 3,7 billion dosages have already been distributed worldwide, and notes that the discoverers were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2015.
AfriForum urged investigations be made in SA into worldwide studies that have already been conducted to confirm if this drug could be used effectively in the prevention and treatment of the virus. This would allow a drug that is already widely available and affordable to perhaps be safely prescribed to treat COVID-19, claims AfriForum, adding that a large range of studies in various countries show that Ivermectin can possibly be effective in the treatment of COVID-19.
“It is irrational to approve the use of a vaccine that has been developed within months and at the same time ban the use of a drug that has been proven safe and has been in use for four decades,” says Barend Uys, AfriForum’s Head of Research.
“The simple reality is that many citizens are currently turning to livestock drugs without the guidance of medical practitioners for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19. The approval of Ivermectin in tablet form that was developed for human consumption is the only way to counter the danger of overdosing that currently exists with the use of the liquid livestock drug. Under the current circumstances it is extremely irresponsible of the authority to forthwith ban the import and use of Ivermectin that was developed for human usage.”
Saai chairman Dr Theo De Jager says: “Farmers have been using Ivermectin as a livestock product for many years and it is immediately available in their medicine cabinets. It is clear from chat groups and internet portals that farmers are currently the largest consumers of the Ivermectin user community, both preventively and as an emergency drug. Saai has a direct interest in protecting agricultural families and their workers and the request to approve procedures, dosages and regulations for human consumption of Ivermectin is at the same time fair and urgent.”
AfriForum says that it will take months for the vaccine to be freely available in SA, and in the meantime people are dying and healthcare workers are under immense pressure. The organisation argues that if a safe drug is available that can possibly restrict the intensity of the pandemic and can help to relieve symptoms and suffering as well as reduce the number of deaths, it could be used in the interim until vaccines are available.
In its statement, AfriForum quoted the following notice of Article 37 of the Helsinki Declaration of the World Medical Association on the ethical principles for medical research involving human subjects, which reads:
In the treatment of an individual patient, where proven interventions do not exist or other known interventions have been ineffective, the physician, after seeking expert advice, with informed consent from the patient or a legally authorized representative, may use an unproven intervention if in the physician’s judgement it offers hope of saving life, re-establishing health or alleviating suffering. This intervention should subsequently be made the object of research, designed to evaluate its safety and efficacy. In all cases, new information must be recorded and, where appropriate, made publicly available.
AfriForum added that it wants to encourage people to use medicine responsibly and in consultation with their doctors.